To embrace, protect, promote, integrate – those four specific guidelines for dealing with the challenges of migration and refugees were proposed by Pope Francis in his Message for the 51st World Day of Peace. In order to take to those tasks seriously and responsibly, first we need a real encounter with the person in need – asylum seeker, refugee, migrant or victim of human trafficking – to recognize and try to understand the reality of his/her life as well as the spiritual and material problems he/she is facing.
For those who have not had yet the opportunity to have such a meeting – especially for young people who are just learning how to find their way in the jungle of information on armed conflicts and humanitarian aid – the answer to the Pope’s call may be to meet someone who has experienced human suffering during the conflict and shares his experience to others.
Such a meeting took place in Kostka Public High School in Cracow, Poland. Anna and Karol Wilczynski, journalists and writers who visited Syria, Lebanon and Turkey in the past year, met with high school students to talk about their encounter with war victims and refugees, present photos and answer questions related to war in Syria and challenges of migration. What are the current living conditions of the average person in Syria?, where to look for reliable source of information about the conflict? and where should our motivation to help those fleeing the war come from? – these are just some of the questions that came from the audience.
Such meetings are also aimed in drawing students’ attention to the fact that global citizenship requires our responsibility and response to real world problems, even if only on a micro scale.
The meeting in Kostka Public High School took place on January 12th 2018 on the occasion of the International World Day of the Migrants and Refugees. Similar meetings with Anna and Karol Wilczynski, also in the form of workshops on migration and Islam, took place in other schools in Cracow and other cities in Poland.